Throughout the generations pedal cars have been extremely popular and a firm favourite among children of all ages.
We had one when we were younger and one of our most treasured memories was peddling our little sister around as she smiled in the tiny passenger seat of our shiny blue pedal car. We felt so grown up driving around like Mum and Dad.
Generations before us have had similar experiences and memories of pedal cars, as nearly every child either owned one or knew someone that did. Pedal cars go all the way back to the 1890s, when the automobile made its way to the streets. The pedal car soon followed.
Just like automobiles, the pedal car was only for the wealthy families of the time, but it was still on every child’s wish list. As the Great Depression loomed most families who could not afford the shiny metal pedal car made their own, and so was born the billy cart, usually made out of wood and other household materials, and they had just as much fun!
Fun Fact – Like many toys during the war, pedal cars stopped being produced as the metal was directed to the supplies for the war.
The post-war prosperity brought a new automobile to every driveway. Lots of children wanted a shiny metal pedal car to match their parents. Garton Kidillac deluxe cars from the Garton Toy Company, included a battery powered head and tail lights and were advertised in toy catalogues for $36.95 in 1954. In the same catalogue, $11.98 would get you a pedal and rod driven Murray Champion Sports Car.
Fun Fact – During the late 1930s some pedal cars made by U.R. Lines Bro’s were decked out with real Dunlop tyres, including a spare.
The pedal cars were not cheap to make as they had lavish details and the steel was typically enameled to ensure the rich and vibrant colours. In some models the pedals were even adjustable with movable windshields and rag-tops to ensure a more comfortable ride for the little racers. Models ranged from economy to luxury, just like their parent’s cars.
Fun Fact – The Garton Kidillac was even given away by car salesmen as a sweetener to buyers of the new Cadillac.
After the huge success and popularity that pedal cars attracted, companies started to manufacture pedal planes, trucks, trains and tricycles.
The 1970s saw plastic pedal cars being parked in driveways as new safety standards for metal cars were introduced, sadly leading to the end of the manufacture of ride-on metal cars.
When the company Murray stopped manufacturing pedal cars they moved onto the next big thing – the power lawn mower.
Fun Fact – The Australian Government released a stamp with a red Cyclops pedal car from 1953 as they were so popular here in Australia.
Pedal cars are still very popular today but sadly in today’s ‘throw – away society’ they’re now mostly made of plastic and mass produced. Tin pedal cars are still sought after however as a special big-ticket item or a collector’s item. They remain a classic with the same stylish appeal that they had many years ago but they’re now much harder to come by.
Here at The Vintage Toy Box we have a beautiful line of vintage inspired tin pedal cars in-store so you can relive memories of your past and allow your children to experience the hours of fun you had as a child.